After training as a journalist, Helen went on to work as an editor at Amnesty International and then developed a career in the trade union movement. She is a graduate of the MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and currently works from home in Brighton as a writer and editor. I am excited to hear her read for Oxfam on September 29 in London.
We are what our grandparents ate.
Their choices from the cold store ordered my genes
so that a grapefruit dissected with the proper tool
and eaten by my grandma on the eve of war
accounts for this bitterness I sometimes feel.
And maybe that extra cow’s-lick of butter
churned from grandpa’s Irish herd,
scooped up on his initialled silver blade
passed down to my own cutlery drawer,
has marked me too; my slick, emollient tongue.
I have no children of my own
but today I select with care: mussels in their shells,
unscrubbed; hake, the deep sea gleam
still polished in its eye; tomatoes not yet ripe,
their stubborn grip on the vine.
poem by Helen Oswald